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DHEC: Cases of Zika in SC up to 17

FILE - This 2006 file photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, announced new guidance for doctors whose pregnant patients may have traveled to regions with a tropical illness linked to birth defects. Officials say doctors should ask pregnant women about their travel and certain symptoms, and, if warranted, test them for an infection with the Zika virus. The virus is spread through mosquito bites. (James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP, File)

The number of reported Zika cases in the Palmetto State is up to 17, according to the latest numbers from the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control.

DHEC says all of the cases are travel-related, and the people were infected outside the country and diagnosed only after returning to South Carolina. One case was sexually transmitted after the patient had sex with someone who got the Zika virus while traveling abroad.

Currently none of the infected are pregnant women.

Due to federal privacy restrictions, DHEC is unable to provide additional information concerning any individual, including details about physical condition, hospitalization, age, sex, and residence.

South Carolina health officials confirmed the first travel-related case of Zika virus in late April.

"We had expected to see a case appear in South Carolina eventually as more people vacation to countries where the Zika virus is actively spreading," said Teresa Foo, M.D. and DHEC medical consultant at the time. "As our state's public health agency, we actively monitor for the arrival of new diseases in South Carolina in an effort to help stop the spread of the illness."

Mosquitoes in some other countries carry the virus and transmit it through biting. When traveling to any country with active Zika transmission, travelers should proactively take steps to prevent mosquito bites, including using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, snf staying in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.

Most people infected with the Zika virus do not have any symptoms. When symptoms are present, the most common are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. Often, symptoms of Zika infection can be mild, yet last as long as one week.

Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other severe birth defects.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that all women who are pregnant should not travel to areas abroad where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

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